Some good dry red wines to use for cooking include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet franc, according to Bon Appetit. When choosing the type of wine to cook with, it's important to consider the heartiness of the dish.
For example, a rich dish such as a slow-cooked beef roast pairs well with a full-flavored red wine such as zinfandel or shiraz. Lighter dishes may benefit from a more mellow red wine such as chianti. Wine Folly suggests that dry red wines provide a flavorful base for wine reduction sauces and other sauces such as Bourguignonne or beurre rouge.
Because wine infuses a dish with flavor, acidity and body, it's important to select a wine that would otherwise be drinkable. In the past, many cooks used undrinkable wines to cook with, or "cooking" wine found in the grocery store. Poor-quality wines contribute sour and bitter flavors, while cooking wines typically are made of cheap wine with added food coloring and salt, according to Cooking Light. Instead, cooks would do well to follow the inimitable Julia Child's advice: "If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one."